Washington, Oct 6 (ANI): University of York claim to have identified a gene that appears to play a crucial role in cancer cell survival.
The researchers have used a process called RNA interference to target the JNK2 gene in both cancer and healthy cells. The cancer cells died but the healthy cells were unaffected.
"Our results indicate that one day it may be possible to treat cancer without the harmful side-effects so often associated with today's treatments," said Dr Shafiq Ahmed, from the YCR P53 Research Unit in the Department of Biology.
"Our study has identified a cancer-specific target which could be selectively inhibited using small-molecules, or other means, without the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy," he added.
During the study, the researchers examined colorectal cancer and breast cancer cell lines among others
A major aim of the research team is to identify cancer-specific survival genes and to ask if such genes offer a new route for cancer treatment.
This field of research has been made possible through the development of RNA interference, which allows the silencing of a single gene amongst thousands of genes.
"Our approach is now revealing unexpected properties for certain genes including JNK2," said co-researcher Professor Jo Milner.
We have also studied JNK2's close relative, JNK1, and found that these two genes seem to oppose each other. JNK1 and JNK2 resemble the 'Jekyll and Hyde' for cancer cell survival.
"A further surprise is that the mechanism by which these two genes function under normal every-day conditions appears distinct from the mechanism which is activated by current anti-cancer therapies," Milner added.
The study is published in the journal PLoS One. (ANI)